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All you need to know about foot arthroscopy

What is foot arthroscopy surgery?

A foot arthroscopy enables a surgeon to perform operations without the need for large incisions that can otherwise take a long time to heal properly and is frequently used as a diagnostic tool.


It’s possible through the use of an arthroscope, a long, thin, flexible tube, roughly the diameter of a pencil or a drinking straw that contains a video camera and a bright light, and tiny, specially designed surgical instruments.

What is foot arthroscopy used for?

Foot arthroscopic surgery can be used to treat or diagnose a wide variety of foot and ankle conditions, including:


  • Torn ligaments

  • Ankle fractures

  • Removal of loose bone or cartilage

  • Pain in the subtalar joint

  • Synovitis

  • Ankle arthritis

  • Ankle instability

  • When scar tissue forms within the ankle joint

  • Removal of scar tissue

What are the benefits of foot arthroscopy?

People that are active may experience foot, heel, or ankle pain at some time in their life.


Foot arthroscopy surgery benefits include reduced pain, treatment of conditions like early stages of arthritis and joint debridement (removing areas of loose cartilage inflamed tissue from the joint.)


Arthroscopic surgery can also be used to:


  • Treat past injuries

  • Reduced risks of infection and swelling

  • Treat pain and inflammation of the plantar fascia (heel spur syndrome)

  • Address problems of the big toe joint

  • Minimally invasive

What are the risks of a foot arthroscopy?

Even though is a minimally invasive procedure, foot arthroscopy has some potential risks that include:


  • Infection

  • Bleeding

  • Anesthesia issues

  • Nerve or blood vessels injury


Studies suggest that fewer than 1% of patients experience such complications.


About 10% of patients experience some numbness or tingling on the top of the operated foot. This discomfort typically goes away on its own in time.

How is a foot arthroscopy surgery like?



Foot arthroscopy is performed under general and local anesthesia, the latter placed to block at the knee or foot for the big toe.




Your surgeon performs two incisions known as portals.


The first portal is to allow the passage of a camera connected by a fiber-optic cable to a high definition LCD screen to allow the examination and management of various conditions in the ankle, subtalar, and big toe joints as well as several soft tissue structures including tendons and the plantar fascia on the bottom of the foot.


The other portal is used for instrument access. Instruments include suction shavers, burrs, osteotomes (chisels), probes, curettes, diathermy (to cauterize bleeding), and grasping instruments.

What should I expect after a foot arthroscopy?

You should expect a temporary hypersensitivity of the foot that occasionally requires a cortisone injection.


Temporary nerve irritation from portal scarring occurs rarely and almost exclusively resolves with time. A stick-on dressing is placed and normal shoes can be worn a day after surgery.


You should expect specific information on post-operative care of dressings and required rehabilitation to assist in obtaining a successful outcome.

What should I expect in a foot arthroscopy recovery?

You should expect the incisions to heal within several days and a custom physical therapy regimen.


Generally, you should be comfortable and safe to drive one week after foot arthroscopy.


Most patients will be back to walking within one to two days and participating in normal activities within two weeks.


Foot swelling may last up to a month.

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